“Metamorphoses” (The Giants’ War, II) – Ovid, 110


      “The Marriage at Cana (1563) 


              Paolo Veronese




Jove “sigh’d;” if you’ll remember, “nor 

longer with his pity strove; / But kindled 

to a wrath” which was worthy of him

           Then call’d a general council of the Gods;

           Who summon’d, issue from their blest abodes,

           And fill th’ assembly with a shining train. 


Jove calls the gods together to discuss 

the abhorrent conditions on Earth, who, 

upon being summon’d, leave their blest, 

or blessed, homes, and fill Jove’s 

assembly hall with their glittering train, 

their advancing pageantry


           A way there is, in Heav’n’s expanded plain,

           Which, when the skies are clear, is seen below,

           And mortals, by the name of Milky, know. 

when the skies are clear in Heaven’s

expanded plain, its wide expanse, 

mortals can see the Milky Way


           The ground-work is of stars; through which the road

           Lyes open to the Thunderer’s abode: 


this Milky Way is paved with stars, which

lead to Jove’s, the Thunderer’s, domain


           The Gods of greater nations dwell around, 

           And, on the right and left, the palace bound;

the dwellings of the gods who represent 

the greater nations of the era, of Rome, 

for instance, or Greece, surround,

encircle, the Thunderer’s abode, his 



           The commons where they can: the nobler sort

           With winding-doors wide open, front the court. 


the more common gods, those of 

lesser nations, live where they can, 

while the winding-doors of the nobler 

gods, doors which can be activated

mechanically, on hinges, though 

perhaps here divinely, stand wide 

open for this colloquy, this exalted 

conference, before the celestial 



           This place, as far as Earth with Heav’n may vie,

           I dare to call the Louvre of the skie. 


if one were to compare [t]his place

this court, to anything on Earth, have 

it vie with, one would liken it, Ovid 

says, to the Louvre


there’s evidently an anachronism 

here since the Louvre didn’t exist at

the time of Ovid, so that the translators 

have replaced the “Palatia” of Ovid’s 

original Latin, which refers to the 

Palatine, the most central of Rome’s

Seven Hillswhere imperial palaces

were built at the time of Augustus

63 B.C. to 14 A.D., which is to say 

during Ovid’s time, 43 B.C. to 

17 /18 A.D., by this relatively more 

recent palatial residence, the Louvre,

in order to make the text more

contemporary, like settings and 

attire are used in Renaissance

art to kindle the viewer’s sense 

of connection


see, for instance, above, where 

Veronese depicts the scene of Jesus 

attending a marriage at Cana, a village 

in Galilee, and transforms water there 

into wine to accommodate a shortage,

midst Roman, note, rather than Galilean, 

trappings, splendour


           When all were plac’d, in seats distinctly known, 

           And he, their father, had assum’d the throne,

seats distinctly known means the

traditionally assigned places, with 

Jove, “their father”, at the head of

the convocation 

           Upon his iv’ry sceptre first he leant,
           Then shook his head, that shook the firmament: 


leant, or leaned, [t]hen shook his head

in revulsion


           Air, Earth, and seas, obey’d th’ almighty nod;
           And, with a gen’ral fear, confess’d the God. 


the elements, Air, Earth, and seas“, 

acknowledge, or confess’d, the God, 

with quivering anxiety


           At length, with indignation, thus he broke
           His awful silence, and the Pow’rs bespoke. 

Jove, after a silence, bespeaks, or 

addresses, the assembled Pow’rs, 

the other divinities


R ! chard